Posts

Showing posts from July, 2012

Cordova, at a crossroads after tornado devastation, rethinks its options (slideshow, video) | al.com

Image
Cordova, at a crossroads after tornado devastation, rethinks its options (slideshow, video) | al.com: Struck by two powerful tornadoes on April 27, 2011, Cordova lost most of its business base, and the buildings left on its one-block core are in various states of collapse, with broken windows, missing roofs and piles of bricks spilling into the street.
August will be a month of intense debate over the town's fate, over how to revive it and whether to support strip-mining coal on town property along the banks of the Mulberry Fork.
Read More:

Zelda's Birthday

Image
Raise a glass to Zelda Fitzgerald, who was born July 24, 1900 in Montgomery, Ala.
Garrison Keillor had a wonderful snippet on The Writer's Almanac to mark the occasion. He includes a famous quote from Zelda: She said, "I don't want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally."

Transportation bill eliminates designated source of funding for Northern Beltline, but keeps it on track | al.com

Transportation bill eliminates designated source of funding for Northern Beltline, but keeps it on track | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The federal transportation bill enacted earlier this month eliminates the separate, designated source of funding that was to be used to build a 52-mile interstate beltline north of Birmingham. But at the same time, it includes incentives and directives aimed at keeping the project on track.
Opponents of the $4.7 billion Northern Beltline say the change takes away one of the proponents' main arguments -- that money designated for the project can't be spent on other more pressing transportation needs. Now beltline spending will compete with transportation priorities statewide.
But supporters, who see the beltline as an economic bonanza for Jefferson County, say the legislation increases the appeal of the beltline by eliminating the requirement that the state provide a 20 percent match for federal funding. Now Appalachian Development Highway Sy…

An inflow into the urban core of Detroit creates promise and tension: lessons for Birmingham?

Image
Futurist Richard Florida, writing for Atlantic Cities, flagged a  provocative piece in the Detroit News, written by Karen Dumas, former press secretary for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
The piece discusses the fact that young, predominately white urbanites are flowing into center-city Detroit, a trend seen in metros around the country including Atlanta. That's beginning to happen in Birmingham too.
While that inflow can be positive for the economy and may start to reverse decades of population decline, it often leads to tension between the new arrivals and the long-suffering Detroit natives who didn't or couldn't move out.

Alabama's river trail earns national designation | al.com

Image
Alabama's river trail earns national designation | al.com: The 631-mile Alabama Scenic River Trail was named Monday as a National Water Trail, part of a newly established system of recreational trails along rivers and creeks through bayous and bays.

Oysters can handle some, but not all pollution we dump into the nation's estuaries | al.com

Image
Ben Raines story on Dauphin Island Seas Lab and Auburn University research on oysters:

Oysters can handle some, but not all pollution we dump into the nation's estuaries | al.com: MOBILE, Alabama -- While oysters are known to be one of nature’s best natural filters, new research suggests there are limits to how much pollution they can clean up.
In fact, some of the nation’s estuaries are so overwhelmed with excess fertilizer that it would take more oysters than the bays can hold in order to purify the water.
Adult oysters are known to filter about 50 gallons of water daily. But existing research had never fully addressed how much pollution was removed from the water filtered by an oyster, versus how much pollution passed through the animal’s body back into the water.

Top 15 pivotal events in Alabama history, so says the state's chief historian | al.com

Image
Nice piece by David White talking with the state's retiring state archivist:

Top 15 pivotal events in Alabama history, so says the state's chief historian | al.com: MONTGOMERY -- The days when men first walked on the moon and people first set foot in what is now Alabama are two of the 15 key dates in Alabama history listed recently by state archives Director Ed Bridges.

World War II, the Civil War and the civil rights movement also are represented by dates Bridges provided after he was asked to propose a top-10 list for Alabama history. He didn't stop at 10.
''Obviously, there are a lot of things I wanted to include here, and I couldn't get it down to 10, but somehow this 15 seemed to give a reasonably balanced overview," he said.
Bridges, 66, has been director of the state Department of Archives and History since May 1982. He plans to retire after Sept. 30.

Red Mountain Park to launch night-time zip-lining starting on Friday the 13th | al.com

Image
Red Mountain Park to launch night-time zip-lining starting on Friday the 13th | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Just in time for Friday the 13th, Red Mountain Park is launching night-time zip-lining.
Starting Friday and continuing on Friday nights through the end of summer, the park's Red Ore Zip Tour will be open after dark, with riders racing through the trees down the mountain slopes.

New protections urged for 5 species in Alabama under Endangered Species Act | al.com

Image
New protections urged for 5 species in Alabama under Endangered Species Act | al.com:
By Thomas Spencer
The iconic giant of Southeastern rivers, the alligator snapping turtle, is among 53 reptiles and amphibians that should be considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to a petition filed Wednesday by the environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity.
In addition to the alligator snapping turtle, the center's petition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service includes four other species known to occur in Alabama: the green salamander, which is found in the crevices of rock formations along the Appalachian mountains, and three species associated with the longleaf pine forests of south Alabama: the Southern hog-nosed snake, the Florida pine snake and the Carolina gopher frog.
Read more:

Birmingham mass-transit job access ranks 90th out of 100 metro areas | al.com

Image
Birmingham mass-transit job access ranks 90th out of 100 metro areas | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Birmingham ranks No. 90 out of 100 U.S. cities when it comes to connecting employers with potential workers by mass transit, according to a new analysis by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program.

The Great Emergence of Gray Bats: See them while you can

Image
You can still catch the nightly emergence of more than 250,000 bats from Sauta Cave, the largest emergence east of the Mississippi. Scientists fear this may not continue because of the spread of white-nose syndrome.

Here are some other resources.
Here's a first hand account of a 2010 visit I made to Sauta Cave.

And a video I shot, featuring Keith Hudson, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources top bat expert explaining the phenomenon.


For a national perspective on WNS, government and non-governmental partners have compiled this website: www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

For more Alabama news on White-nose Syndrome The Alabama Bat Working Group


A photo gallery of the Sauta cave emergence shot by Birmingham News Photographer Hal Yeager


View Bat Caves in a larger map Other Resources:
Outdoor Alabama bat-watching page



Rotary Club of Birmingham exploring greenway linking Railroad Park and Sloss Furnaces | al.com

Image
Rotary Club of Birmingham exploring greenway linking Railroad Park and Sloss Furnaces :
By Thomas Spencer

A crucial greenway link between Railroad Park and Sloss Furnaces could become a centerpiece project in the Rotary Club of Birmingham's celebration of its 100th anniversary.
The club, which recently became the world's largest Rotary club, is exploring a partnership with the city of Birmingham, Freshwater Land Trust, Operation New Birmingham and Railroad Park Foundation to convert into a pedestrian and bicycle greenway the abandoned railroad line that runs along First Avenue South under the viaducts between 20th Street and 24th Streets. The working name for the project is "Line Park."
Making the connection would be a major advance in the long-term goal of creating a sprawling linear park connecting attractions such as the new baseball park with the office and entertainment district in the Lakeview area.

The 'Busy' Trap - NYTimes.com

Image
This is something I've been trying to say for a while now, but I haven't had the time. Thanks to the author, Tim Kreider, for taking the time.
The 'Busy' Trap - NYTimes.com by Tim Kreider: Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
Read more